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Measuring Market Inefficiencies in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market

  • Severin Borenstein
  • James B. Bushnell
  • Frank A. Wolak

We present a method for decomposing wholesale electricity payments into production costs, inframarginal competitive rents, and payments resulting from the exercise of market power. Using data from June 1998 to October 2000 in California, we find significant departures from competitive pricing during the high-demand summer months and near-competitive pricing during the lower-demand months of the first two years. In summer 2000, wholesale electricity expenditures were $8.98 billion up from $2.04 billion in summer 1999. We find that 21 percent of this increase was due to production costs, 20 percent to competitive rents, and 59 percent to market power.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/000282802762024557
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 92 (2002)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1376-1405

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:5:p:1376-1405
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282802762024557
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  1. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1998. "Strategic Bidding in a Multiunit Auction: An Empirical Analysis of Bids to Supply Electricity in England and Wales," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 703-725, Winter.
  2. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Knittel, Chris, 1999. "Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures," Staff General Research Papers 31548, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Severin Borenstein & James. Bushnell & Steven Stoft, 2000. "The Competitive Effects of Transmission Capacity in A Deregulated Electricity Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 294-325, Summer.
  5. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell & Christopher R. Knittel & Catherine Wolfram, 2001. "Trading Inefficiencies in California's Electricity Markets," NBER Working Papers 8620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bushnell, James, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 12(8), pages 77-85, October.
  7. Robert H. Patrick & Frank A. Wolak, 2001. "Estimating the Customer-Level Demand for Electricity Under Real-Time Market Prices," NBER Working Papers 8213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joskow, Paul L & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks I: Financial Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 2093, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Andrews, Donald W K, 1991. "Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 817-58, May.
  10. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  11. Frank A. Wolak & Robert H. Patrick, 2001. "The Impact of Market Rules and Market Structure on the Price Determination Process in the England and Wales Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 8248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Kahn, Edward & Stoft, Steven, 1995. "Market power in California electricity markets," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 219-236.
  13. Cardell, Judith B. & Hitt, Carrie Cullen & Hogan, William W., 1997. "Market power and strategic interaction in electricity networks," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 109-137, March.
  14. Kahn, Edward & Bailey, Shawn & Pando, Luis, 1997. "Simulating electricity restructuring in California: Interactions with the regional market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 3-28, March.
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